Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Shelly S. Arneson


Behavior problems among third- and fourth-grade students have become an issue of concern among stakeholders in the education sector. The purpose of this qualitative exploratory case study was to explore teachers’ perceptions of Second Step, a socioemotional curriculum with practices used to address behaviors with third and fourth graders. The study’s theoretical framework was Bandura’s social learning theory. Research questions focused on third and fourth-grade teachers’ perceptions of Second Step’s benefits on student behaviors and socioemotional practices. Interviews, document reviews, and photographs were used to collect data from 10 third- and fourth-grade teachers. Open coding and thematic analysis were used to analyze data. The findings revealed that teachers perceived that students felt their voices were valued when teachers were empowered to validate their emotions, which gave teachers an easy-to-implement, engaging way to teach social-emotional skills and concepts in Second Step. In addition, socioemotional practices were used to address the behavioral needs of the third- and fourth-grade students. Teachers were empowered to validate students’ emotions, conflict resolution was improved, teacher mediation of problem-solving was used, the problem-solving wheel was used, and scenario practice was used. Findings could result in positive social change by highlighting different curricula and interventions that work best for students struggling behaviorally in similar grades and neighborhoods. Recommendations include providing teachers with ongoing coaching so they can balance content time while addressing the emotional concerns of students when they need support.